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David Cameron pressured to give tax breaks to win gay marriage vote

UK Prime Minister is under mounting pressure to give a tax break to married couples as a compromise to backbenchers, which could cost up to £550m a year
UK Prime Minister David Cameron is under pressure to give married couples tax breaks as a compromise for the marriage equality bill.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is under pressure to give tax breaks for married couples in order to win the marriage equality vote.

Members of parliament are pressing the cabinet to make an announcement in March to implement the coalition government’s promise to reward married couples and civil partnerships in the tax system.

Speaking to The Times, Cabinet sources said the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne should ‘act sooner rather than later’ and the Budget would be a ‘good time to placate an awful lot of people’.

Former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth said Osborne had no choice but to deliver the party’s promise on tax breaks.

‘What quid pro quo is there for us?’ he said. ‘Implementing a manifesto commitment should come before implementing something for which there’s no mandate, let alone public consent, and which as the added disadvantage of being deeply resented by longstanding, hard-working Conservative members who feel they are being trampled on.’

MPs reportedly plan to force the Chancellor to move his hand on tax, or force the Cabinet to sacrifice marriage equality.

Next week on 5 February, the House of Commons will vote on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

While it is believed a majority of MPs back the bill, Cameron is reportedly ready for nearly 150 of the Conservative party to vote against the bill on a free vote.

The tax break would allow people who do not work to transfer about £750 ($1200, €875) of their tax-free allowance to their spouse.  The pledge will cost about £550 million ($865m, €640m) a year.

To give tax breaks to married couples, Conservatives will first have to win over their  partners the Liberal Democrats, who argue their coalition agreement prioritized raising the personal tax allowance to £10,000.

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